Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Dominic Sellitto, Clinical Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo School of Management, United States.
University at Buffalo (UB), in New York State, is a public university with more than 30,000 students in 13 schools and colleges, providing more than 450 academic degree programs. UB is a flagship of the State University of New York system and the largest of the 64 institutions that comprise it.
University at Buffalo School of Management offers undergraduate, MBA, Master of Science and PhD degree options and is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning and community and economic impact. Since 1930, it has been continuously accredited by the prestigious AACSB International. Of the more than 16,000 business schools in the world, only about 5% are accredited by AACSB.
The School of Management’s Master of Science programs include finance, accounting, business analytics, and management information systems.
Dominic Sellitto is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Management Science and Systems. He is the Program Director, MS in Business Analytics and teaches courses in Cybersecurity/Information Assurance, Data Warehousing, Digital Forensics, and IT Management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from the University at Buffalo.
Before joining the university in 2021, Sellitto worked in the cybersecurity industry as a consulting Chief Information Security Officer, driving security program development, implementation, operation, strategic planning, and ongoing executive-level reporting.
In 2021, he adopted the Oracle Academy Cloud Program for his one-semester master’s-level course in Data Warehousing.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us why you chose Oracle Cloud?
Dominic Sellitto: I began teaching data warehousing about two years back, focusing on the importance of data warehouses as the basis for analyzing data. And with that came the increasing necessity of getting students exposure to a cloud ecosystem.
When I joined UB, my colleagues had been using Oracle Live SQL, a web-based SQL editor with a built-in Oracle database. Live SQL is a great tool for imparting general concepts, but for my data warehousing course, I needed a way to replicate what today’s businesses are focused on: integrating on-premises databases with a data warehouse in the cloud for superior analytics.
That involves the essential ability to integrate a variety of data sources into one analytical ecosystem, which is the driving force behind data warehousing.
So, I was on the hunt for a cloud platform and, when planning the 2022 iteration of my graduate level data warehousing class, I came across the Oracle Academy Cloud Program. In fact, it was recommended by one of our esteemed adjunct professors who works at Oracle. As I’ve had development and operational experience with Oracle databases throughout my career, the Oracle Cloud Free Tier was just the ticket for bringing the data warehousing course to the next level!
Oracle Academy: And has it worked out?
Dominic Sellitto: Totally, it’s incredibly accessible! Before OCI, students would join class with MacBooks, Chromebooks, Linux boxes, and even tablets, and we would struggle with many software restrictions, like downloading SQL Workbench. This led to endless troubleshooting, and shifted the focus of the course from hands-on experience to issue resolution.
As a web-based ecosystem, Oracle Cloud removed these barriers and allowed every student with a web browser to seamlessly engage with content, irrespective of device or operating system. And from a student perspective, Oracle Cloud provides a no risk platform through its “Always Free” resources. Over the years, many of my students have been nervous about engaging with cloud providers because of the possibility of a surprise bill, which can be devastating to a student struggling to make ends meet. However, with Oracle Cloud, they are completely comfortable because they’re in the confines of the Always Free Tier.
Oracle Academy: Good to hear. And how do you use the resources?
Dominic Sellitto: We aim to use them exactly as businesses use them. Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse provide students with the experience of on-premise-to-cloud connections that they’ll need to be familiar with in an enterprise setting, where companies increasingly need to bring data from back office store systems or transactional databases together into a cloud-hosted data warehouse for rich analytics. It’s all about data integration across systems and secure connections to the cloud.
This past semester, we even ran an integration exercise where students created a data pipeline, using Talend Open Studio for ETL, to facilitate the extraction, transformation, and loading of local data into their cloud data warehouse instances. All of this was part of a semester-long case study, where I created a scenario around a fictitious retail organization.
In our ETL exercise, students took data from a simulated on-premises database, pulled out the retail transactions, transformed them and loaded them into the OCI Autonomous Data Warehouse environment.
They learned how to schedule the data pipeline as batch jobs, processed periodically, simulating a real-world enterprise that has databases on premises and pushes the data into a cloud data warehouse for analysis.
This case study also involved making connections between desktop business intelligence tools, such as Tableau and PowerBI, to the OCI Autonomous Data Warehouse environment to provide additional analytics and visualization.
Oracle Academy: Extremely hands-on! Do you use other Oracle Cloud resources?
Dominic Sellitto: Yes, specifically Oracle Database Actions. As mentioned earlier, before OCI we had no common software platform and spent more time troubleshooting software installs than working hands on with tools. With Database Actions, we have everything we need through a simple web browser. I leverage this OCI portal in a variety of ways, including for running SQL statements and explaining the ins and outs of database development, administration and monitoring. Database Actions also provides access to tools like Data Pump, Data Visualization, User Management and more.
It’s a solid toolkit that allows us to do everything from creating tables via standard SQL queries to engaging with our database through a no-code GUI. Being able to have all that within a browser is an incredible accelerator for learning.
Oracle Academy: And do you have any interest in artificial intelligence ?
Dominic Sellitto: Of course, there is huge demand for artificial intelligence and machine learning at the graduate level. Oracle Academy’s Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning in Java course is top of my list of things to integrate into new iterations of my courses. It’s great that Oracle Academy offers a machine learning curriculum, because the content provides a boost when developing materials; I don’t have to build the entire thing from scratch.
Oracle Academy: Is there anything else in your pipeline?
Dominic Sellitto: My original area of expertise is information security. I know too well that cybersecurity is an integral part of every industry and technology. I continue to engage with the cybersecurity and IT industries, to stay up to date on what companies need in today’s ridiculously fast-moving technology ecosystem. Maintaining ties with industry helps keep me relevant, and enables me to teach things that are pertinent to my students’ upcoming careers.
For example, last year, I created a whole new module on cloud data warehouse security. One of the aspects of that module is to look at database users, focusing on identity management, role-based access control, separation of duties, and other core identity and access management considerations.
Once again in this case, Database Actions allowed me to focus on value in helping my students to learn, to build a data warehouse, engage with it, interact with it and secure it - all within one pane of glass. There’s unique value in that and it’s something that the Oracle Autonomous Database makes very easy for students.
Oracle Academy: How many students do you have?
Dominic Sellitto: In my data warehousing course, we track between 140 and 200 in a semester, so an average of 170 students split into four groups of about 45. These groups are taught by me with the support of a full-time teaching assistant, and we work hard to provide students with personalized attention. It’s a one semester course, and in those 15 weeks I cram in as much learning as I can, emphasizing hands-on work with the technology and the operational tools, labs, and exercises.
To my knowledge we are the first unit in the School of Management to use Oracle Cloud Free Tier, but other faculty in the Management Science and Systems Department have started using Oracle Academy resources due to the importance of SQL skills and database skills in all domains.
For many students, OCI has been their first foray into a cloud environment and Oracle Academy has made it so accessible. The platform has been an incredible boon to my class and has given me the tools I was seeking to address key learning areas in data integration and cloud analytics.
Oracle Academy: What sort of jobs will your Business Analytics masters students expect to find?
Dominic Sellitto: There’s an extensive market for data analytics skills in the US and beyond, along with skillsets in specific platforms like Oracle’s. Many of my students are looking to get into data analysis, data engineering, database architecture, and continuous integration and continuous delivery focused roles that rely on data warehousing and analytical expertise.
Oracle Academy: Thank you. And outside of teaching, what are your interests?
Dominic Sellitto: I’m an avid runner, frequently doing 5k circuits in the gorgeous areas around Buffalo. Cycling too is something my wife and I enjoy, as well as skiing in the winter. Close by, we have a number of smaller mountains, which are great for skiing, and there are many larger ski areas nearby in Canada and Vermont.
Otherwise, technology has always been my passion I spend quite some time on software development, creating small open source applications. Right now, I’ve got a few dozen GitHub projects running — exploring, learning and building.
Thank you, Dominic Sellitto, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.
The perspectives/opinions expressed by Dominic Sellitto do not necessarily represent those of the University at Buffalo.